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(77,434 posts)
Fri May 13, 2016, 10:21 AM May 2016

The Ghosts of ’68 Haunt the Election of 2016

The Ghosts of ’68 Haunt the Election of 2016

Posted on May 13, 2016
By Michael Winship / Moyers & Company

Watching the mad, mad, mad, mad world that is the 2016 presidential campaign, I was trying to remember a presidential campaign that was as jaw-dropping, at least in my lifetime, and easily settled on 1968.

For those too young to remember, imagine: As fighting in Vietnam rages on and the Tet Offensive makes us all too aware of the futility of our Southeast Asian military fiasco, Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy decides to run as an antiwar candidate against incumbent President Lyndon Johnson. Supported by an army of “Clean for Gene” college students knocking on doors and making phone calls, McCarthy does surprisingly well, and then New York Sen. Robert Kennedy gets into the race, too. Johnson makes a surprise announcement that he will not seek a second term in the White House and McCarthy and Kennedy duke it out in the primaries.

In the midst of all this, civil rights giant Martin Luther King Jr., is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, and riots erupt across the cities of the United States. Two months later, Kennedy is murdered in the kitchen of a Los Angeles hotel just minutes after winning the California primary. In August, eight years after his defeat by John F. Kennedy, the Republicans bring back Richard Nixon as their presidential candidate and the Democrats select Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who has not run in a single primary, as their party’s standard bearer. Simultaneously, a police riot against protesters outside the Democratic convention in Chicago leaves an indelible image of chaos, tear gas and blood. Nixon wins the election with a well-executed campaign set to the accompaniment of dog whistle signals against minorities and left-wing dissenters.

Oh, and one other thing — Alabama Gov. George Wallace, arch segregationist and race baiter, runs as the third-party candidate of the American Independent Party, campaigning as a rebel populist seeking the votes of the angry, white working class. He wins almost 10 million votes and carries five states in the South.

Baker’s book… is eerily reminiscent of what’s going on in 2016 America. ..................(more)


29 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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The Ghosts of ’68 Haunt the Election of 2016 (Original Post) marmar May 2016 OP
Scary times them and now! Silver_Witch May 2016 #1
Yep. nt bemildred May 2016 #2
I think the ghosts of '72 haunt it more. malthaussen May 2016 #3
Yeah, I thought that too. bemildred May 2016 #5
I remember those of us for Kennedy or McCarthy were lambasted by the Democratic party as LiberalArkie May 2016 #6
It all seems very familiar. bemildred May 2016 #9
All aimed at moving us further to the central - further toward jwirr May 2016 #14
I know what you are talking about, but I don't think it's as simple as the Clinton's ambitions. bemildred May 2016 #16
Agree. I was actually using the Clinton-Clinton to symbolize jwirr May 2016 #18
Didn't mean to lecture you. bemildred May 2016 #20
+1 jwirr May 2016 #21
Two words: Credibility Gap malthaussen May 2016 #25
Good point. nt bemildred May 2016 #27
Economics of Today Completely Different- Baobab May 2016 #4
"...now the army of multinational corporations...This Democratic Convention needs to focus on those" jtuck004 May 2016 #10
I saw Kennedy speak a few months prior to his being killed. jalan48 May 2016 #7
he would have been president. How different the world would be today. Javaman May 2016 #13
Of all the words of mice and men zeemike May 2016 #19
I agree. This Country goes down an entirely different road if RFK is elected. Va Lefty May 2016 #28
I met Kennedy too condoleeza May 2016 #22
I was living in Seattle about the same time. jalan48 May 2016 #23
Don't underestimate fundementals The Green Manalishi May 2016 #8
Thanks so much for this. zentrum May 2016 #11
I remember 68 as way worse. kairos12 May 2016 #12
Both parties are ignoring their base in this election. Spitfire of ATJ May 2016 #15
The lure of easy money -corporate temporary guest worker programs is strong. Baobab May 2016 #17
1968 shaped the rest of my life... N_E_1 for Tennis May 2016 #24
Boss Ed Rendell even looks like Richard Daley... NewImproved Deal May 2016 #26
The convention that could have been: Mourning the Trump/Cruz open convention we’ll never have bemildred May 2016 #29


(1,820 posts)
1. Scary times them and now!
Fri May 13, 2016, 10:24 AM
May 2016

I think the common man is always the loosed! But we are boiling slowly so perhaps we will not notice!


(17,408 posts)
3. I think the ghosts of '72 haunt it more.
Fri May 13, 2016, 10:34 AM
May 2016

Nixon's slaughter of McGovern has made the Democratic Party run scared for over 40 years, now. There is no sign of it letting up, either.

-- Mal


(90,061 posts)
5. Yeah, I thought that too.
Fri May 13, 2016, 10:56 AM
May 2016

But I think it's both, and '72 was the more important, when Nixon got re-elected. The whole debacle from when Kennedy was assassinated to when Raygun came in, with Tricky Dick's second inaugural as the apex of the movement.


(15,885 posts)
6. I remember those of us for Kennedy or McCarthy were lambasted by the Democratic party as
Fri May 13, 2016, 11:09 AM
May 2016

too Liberal. "We lost to Nixon because they did not vote for Humphrey". Anyone on the left became a draft dodger, against wars etc. The Democrats (in the South at least) started labeling non conservative Democrats as that and a lot thought that was how the country was moving.

Somehow those of us on the left were at fault for Nixon being elected because we did not support a man who was not even a candidate for President in the Democratic Party. We were at fault for the police riot.


(90,061 posts)
9. It all seems very familiar.
Fri May 13, 2016, 11:22 AM
May 2016

There are so many differences in the political situatiion and the candidates, but I keep thinking it really feels the same, the divided parties at war with their membership, the jingo blowhards, the feverish attempts to manipulate the electorate and dissemble the issues in favor of hyperbole and cant in order to retain power just a little bit longer. And they disrespect us.


(39,215 posts)
14. All aimed at moving us further to the central - further toward
Fri May 13, 2016, 11:57 AM
May 2016

a Clinton - Bill in 92 and Hillary in 16. And all by the establishment Democrats. We weren't losing elections because we were too liberal. We were losing elections because the people had no voice in who was to run in most of these races.


(90,061 posts)
16. I know what you are talking about, but I don't think it's as simple as the Clinton's ambitions.
Fri May 13, 2016, 12:24 PM
May 2016

It is about control of the parties, as you would expect with political insurgencies in a two-party system.

There are lots of people doing that sort of thing. Run-to-lose, intra-party fighting, lying, it's very American, always has been. Republicans have been known to do it too. The Clinton's played the game well. They would not be there at all if they did not.

In '68 the Dems tried to shove Hubert down our throats and lost, then McGovern won the Nom outright as an insurgent, and the leadership made sure he lost too. Would not look right if an insurgent won, would it? And then they are out too.

After the Nixon debacle, Jimmy C. got in as an outsider and they savaged him mercilessly for four years. Remember "BIlly Beer"? Then Raygun got shoehorned in and it was Camelot with a new name all of a sudden.

That was when I started waiting for this current mess, when they doubled down on the bullshit and denial, political reform was not accepted. That's very American too.

Now we have wannabe dynasties.

But we have obtained social reforms in the meantime, as sort of a substitute for reform at the top: for women, for all sorts of minorities and outsiders, and in the long run that will do them in, and their own incompetence.


(90,061 posts)
20. Didn't mean to lecture you.
Fri May 13, 2016, 12:44 PM
May 2016

Mr. Englehardt agrees with us:

Hawkish Washington

Recently, in the New York Times Magazine, journalist Mark Landler offered a political portrait entitled “How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk.” He laid out just how the senator and later secretary of state remade herself as, essentially, a military groupie, fawning over commanders or former commanders ranging from then-General David Petraeus to Fox analyst and retired general Jack Keane; how, that is, she became a figure, even on the present political landscape, notable for her “appetite for military engagement abroad” (and as a consequence, well-defended against Republican charges of “weakness”).

There’s no reason, however, to pin the war-lover or “last true hawk” label on her alone, not in present-day Washington. After all, just about everyone there wants a piece of the action. During their primary season debates, for instance, a number of the Republican candidates spoke repeatedly about building up the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, while making that already growing force sound like a set of decrepit barges.


Some posters snarl at you if you ever defend the Clintons, so perhaps I get defensive, I am a Bernie-shill, but I don't really think it's about them. I criticize and defend Obama too. Bernie will have his troubles and mistakes too, if he ever gets the chance. You have to keep your eye on the ball.


(17,408 posts)
25. Two words: Credibility Gap
Fri May 13, 2016, 01:51 PM
May 2016

I think it is a coin-toss whether Mrs Clinton's is worse in 2016 than Mr Johnson's was in 1968, both within the Party and within the nation. But her team and supporters apparently don't consider it a problem, since she's still running.

-- Mal


(4,667 posts)
4. Economics of Today Completely Different-
Fri May 13, 2016, 10:52 AM
May 2016

For example, computers are making workers unnecessary

Also, BAD US Pushed TRADE DEALS are basically a global coup in disguise-

They are trying to take over the future world for corporations. Blocking public services like health care and education.

Massive looting of Americas remaining assets is occurring and the Democratic part is acting as the enabler of predatory banks and ponzi-like investment schemes trying to blackmail the country into providing bailouts to them encouraging bad business decisions.

ISDS in trade deals - special corporate forever rights to rigid policy, is particularly horrible.

The US is now the army of multinational corporations. More so than other countries. This Democratic Convention needs to focus on those issues and not deny them.



(15,882 posts)
10. "...now the army of multinational corporations...This Democratic Convention needs to focus on those"
Fri May 13, 2016, 11:27 AM
May 2016

They have been, looking for donations.

Oh,wait...you meant that another way.


(14,052 posts)
7. I saw Kennedy speak a few months prior to his being killed.
Fri May 13, 2016, 11:19 AM
May 2016

I think he would have easily beat Nixon-he was attracting large, enthusiastic crowds and was galvanizing young voters to turn out. I guess he had to be taken out in order for the MIC to stay in control of the government.


(62,728 posts)
13. he would have been president. How different the world would be today.
Fri May 13, 2016, 11:45 AM
May 2016

I still look back at those times as what could have been.

instead we were thrust into the alternative reality of what we have now.

the era of the endless wars.


(18,998 posts)
19. Of all the words of mice and men
Fri May 13, 2016, 12:43 PM
May 2016

The saddest are, it might have been.

Yep, it could have been a much different world...a much better one.
But that world did not suit the MIC so it could not be allowed to happen.

Va Lefty

(6,252 posts)
28. I agree. This Country goes down an entirely different road if RFK is elected.
Fri May 13, 2016, 02:37 PM
May 2016

He would have ended the war in 1969. Roughly 21,000 Americans would not have been killed there.
There would have been no Watergate. No Carter Presidency, which was a reaction to Watergate. No Reagan Presidency which was a reaction to Carter.
I think that may have been our last, best chance as a Country to lift people out of poverty instead of driving more into it. Help people find jobs instead of helping corporations move them overseas


(814 posts)
22. I met Kennedy too
Fri May 13, 2016, 12:57 PM
May 2016

just 2 weeks before he died. I was working at the Oregonian and he came in to be interviewed. I was wearing a McCarthy button, he was not happy, but still friendly.


(14,052 posts)
23. I was living in Seattle about the same time.
Fri May 13, 2016, 01:01 PM
May 2016

He was very charismatic. As bland as Humphrey was he still almost won. 1968 was a very odd and tragic year.

The Green Manalishi

(1,054 posts)
8. Don't underestimate fundementals
Fri May 13, 2016, 11:19 AM
May 2016

Nixon ran a brilliant campaign. Say what you will about Pat Buchanan, but he did a masterful job.
Nixon very carefully laid the groundwork in 1966, supporting congressional candidates and building up a big stash of favors owed and goodwill amongst the people he was going to need in two years.

Sometimes the crucial parts of politics are the boring stuff; the four years before the election, the logistics, building up IOUs that can be called in (in Nixon's case in order to shot down Rockerfeller at the convention).


(4,667 posts)
17. The lure of easy money -corporate temporary guest worker programs is strong.
Fri May 13, 2016, 12:34 PM
May 2016

Imagine if your company could get skilled professionals as subcontractors- people with advanced degrees- from developing countries for minimum wage. Would you?

That's what both parties seem to secretly want to figure out a way to do, (20 years of back room negotiations and thousands of documents produced by dozens of working groups planning this out tells us so!) especially if they can maintain plausible deniability by figuring out a way to blame it on somebody else, like for example, the WTO.

In exchange for privatizing and putting up these jobs for bidding on - to be awarded to the lowest qualified international or local bidder, our corporations will get trade concessions, like the right to open factories and branches overseas and be treated even better than if we were a locally owned firm.

That works both ways, they will get that too, its reciprocal.

N_E_1 for Tennis

(10,205 posts)
24. 1968 shaped the rest of my life...
Fri May 13, 2016, 01:29 PM
May 2016

I was protesting the war in Detroit, standing under the statue of " The Spirit of Detroit".
It was about 2 in the afternoon when we heard the news of his death.
I still tear up thinking of that day.


(90,061 posts)
29. The convention that could have been: Mourning the Trump/Cruz open convention we’ll never have
Sat May 14, 2016, 10:26 AM
May 2016
If you want to know about conventions? 1968 et. seq. here it is. Walter Karp's "Liberty Under Seige" (available from Harper's) is good on this period too.


After Hubert Humphrey won the Democratic nomination without entering a single primary, at a convention that broke out in brawls both inside and outside the convention hall, and then promptly went on to lose the election to Nixon, the Democrats empaneled a commission to reform their nomination process to replace the smoke-filled rooms with, mostly, primary elections.

Republicans, taking stock of the political winds, mostly followed suit. It seemed the smoke-filled rooms—and the dark arts of convention manipulation—were a thing of the past.

One last hurrah

Except for that one last hurrah.

In 1976, conservatives, ever alert for signs of civilizational collapse, somehow managed to frame poor Gerald Ford as a liberal quisling, and lined up behind Ronald Reagan’s nearly unprecedented challenge to a sitting president of his own party, which he fought almost to a tie.

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